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Hot work

Hot work covers all work which involves a risk of igniting building elements and similar. Thus the term “hot work” covers all work involving naked flames. However, it also applies to work with tools which give off heat where there is a risk of fire starting, e.g. angle grinders, circular saws, tools for drying and soldering, etc. Therefore, the rules and practice mentioned can also be used in connection with such work.
Hot work is often the cause of fire because staff are unaware of how they can prevent fire. Therefore, it is important to prepare effective safety procedures and ensure that everyone understands the fire risks and has received good instruction.

Insurance companies make demands in respect of hot work. Typically, any company carrying out hot work will be covered by the developer’s building insurance.

Complete an agreement form on hot work before work commences. This form is available from the Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology at www.brandteknisk-institut.dk.

Good planning can prevent the risk of fire and explosions. How this must specifically be implemented must be stated in the tender documentation or described in the Health and Safety Plan.

In many instances, it will be necessary to have a guard for a time after the hot work has been completed.

The employer is obliged to notify employees of the risk of fire and to instruct them on how to prevent fire and fight any fire occurring.

Risk of fire

There are two categories for risk of fire during hot work:

  1. Faulty tools, or incorrect use of tools.
  2. Heat from work which ignites inflammable materials.

In both situations, the risk of fire can be averted by simple means:

  • Check that the tool has been correctly maintained and is only used as specified by the manufacturer.
  • Remove all inflammable materials. – e.g. Known spontaneously combustible products/processes (linseed oil and similar cloths). If it is not possible to remove the material, it must be stored in a container suitable for the purpose.

Examine buildings for anything which has to be taken into account especially before work commences.

  • Are inflammable materials, liquids or gases stored?
  • Are there any cavities containing inflammable materials?
  • Are there any concealed cable conduits or extraction ducts which open out beneath or just over the roof, from which inflammable vapour or dust could blow out?
  • Are there any old papers, spiders webs, etc. which could easily catch fire and start a conflagration?

Other conditions which require attention:

  • Waste and empty packaging must be thrown regularly into suitable containers.
  • Always keep the escape routes free.
  • Store welding equipment properly once work is finished.
  • Smoking is prohibited in any location where solvents and mixtures containing solvents are used and stored.
  • Place foam extinguishers on every floor.
  • Put up signs near to foam extinguishers, and add arrows showing where they are.
  • Inform employees of fire protection.

Beside all telephones, put up the telephone numbers of alarm centres and the address of the site. Store any alarm centre numbers on the mobile phone.

In the case of cutting, grinding and welding, the heat is mainly propagated in the form of sparks from the material being worked with (there is no such thing as “cold” sparks).

Extinguishing equipment

Regularly check extinguishing equipment and make sure that fire extinguishers have no visible faults or defects, that the seals are intact and that the pressure gauge is displaying the correct pressure.

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Extinguishers in poor condition give a false sense of security and cannot stop a fire before it develops.

Extinguishers must be approved and labelled “DS”. According to the law, a DS-approved filling station must handling extinguisher filling and pressure testing at least every five years.

If an extinguisher is used outdoors, is subject to changeable weather or is often transported, it must undergo a service inspection by a DS-accredited servicing company at least every six months.

Working with naked flames

Using naked flames, also known as hot work, includes work such as roofing and welding.

The employer is obliged to notify employees of the risk of fire and to instruct them on how to prevent fire and fight any fire occurring.
Avoid naked flames that may come into contact with inflammable materials or building elements. Also make sure there are no cracks or joints in building elements and covers which burning/glowing materials can penetrate.

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Watch out in particular for fire in small cavities, e.g. during roofing and metalwork. Fire can make a lot of progress in small cavities and ignite inflammable materials far from the work site.

Divide up the planning of the work as follows:

  • Conditions before work commences.
  • Setup of the work site.
  • Execution of the work.
  • Conditions during work.
  • Conditions in the event of a fire.
  • Conditions when the work is finished, including fire guard.